Kyle Vance has been getting a head start on his golf career after college, focused on practicing for what he hopes will be a fulfilling summer of competition. He got off to a good start Monday.
Vance, a Methacton High School graduate who will get his bachelor’s degree Sunday from Kansas State, fired a 4-under-par 67 in cool and windy conditions to finish as the medalist in U.S. Open local qualifying at Indian Valley Country Club in Telford.
Vance, of Audubon, Pa., carded six birdies on his round, four of them coming in succession on holes 3 through 6 where his longest putt was 15 feet, and his other three putts were 4 feet or less.
“I hit it really close on a lot of the tougher pins, kind of took the hills out of play, didn’t really rely on bounces,” he said. “My numbers into the wind, downwind, they were all pretty solid so I was pin-high a lot and that gave me some good birdie chances out there, which was nice.”
A total of five berths in the regional stage of qualifying were up for grabs. Conor McGrath, who just completed his junior season at Temple, birdied two holes on the back nine for a 70 to take one spot.
Five competitors finished at 72 and played off for the last three places. Former St. Joseph’s star Tyler Sokolis birdied the first playoff hole to advance, and mini-tour pros David Sanders of Mount Laurel and Joseph Gunerman, a Yardley native now living in Dallas, both parred the second extra hole to earn their invitations.
Vance played in 14 events over three seasons at Kansas State but chose not to compete during his senior year. He opted to return home April 1 and take the rest of his classes and final exams virtually.
“The coaches were kind of going in a different path with the younger guys, so I didn’t compete,” he said. “Then I was like, ‘Let’s get some tournaments going,’ so I went home and practiced because it’s always windy in Kansas. I’ve been grinding every day.”
Vance said he will play in as many local amateur events as he can in preparing for qualifying tournaments early in 2022 on the PGA Tour’s Canadian and Latin American circuits.
McGrath, a graduate of Academy of the New Church, rebounded from a first-hole bogey to play a solid round. He birdied holes 10 and 14 and made clutch par saves at Nos. 13 and 15.
“Those were pretty nice,” he said. “Besides that, I was able to play smart golf and hit it where I needed to, made a lot of stress-free pars which are pretty keys to qualifiers.”
A playoff involving the two players who shot 72 but did not advance to regional qualifying played off for alternate spots. Former Temple star Brandon Matthews captured the first alternate position, and Penn Charter senior Patrick Istzwan took second alternate.